Jaclyn Rose is a self taught textile artist, using a basic sewing machine and recycled household linens to create her fine line illustrations using a technique called free-motion. Her ongoing commentaries and criticisms about herself and modern society are presented with a sense of humor and delicateness, underlined by eroticism and female power. Born and raised in New York and after a long run as a Californian, she is now currently living and working abroad in various locations hopping around as her visas run out.
On Friday April 7th, Rose premieres her latest body of work alongside the wire sculptures of Spenser Little at 111 Minna, an exhibition focused on linework entitled "Love Lines." Jux contributor Lauren YS caught up with Rose to discuss the fiercer side of embroidery, living on the road and five things women should never be without.
Lauren YS: You use a technique called "free motion" to transfer line drawings into a larger scale embroidery format. Why is it called "free motion?"
Jaclyn Rose: In normal use of a sewing machine the feed dogs rise from the bottom and grab and glide the fabric backward as the presser foot applies pressure downward, and the stich length and direction are controlled by the machine. in freemotion these actions are disabled, everything is controlled by hand, the foot is replaced with a spring loaded foot that bounces along with the needle, and the user is able to draw with the thread my moving the fabric around underneath it.
How / when did you start doing embroidery, and why have you committed to this particular medium?
When I started doing this, I was already sewing every day, making one of a kind garments from thrift store fabrics, and one day I made some pillows for a friend of mine for his new house and I made two little bird dolls for him out of the scraps. I took my presser foot off my machine and made some very crude little faces and I liked them so much that I became obsessed with trying to learn to draw with the machine. I spent a lot of time crying and troubleshooting new methods the first few years, and I don't think I've sewn a garment since... I'm now commited to this method because I spent so much of my life with it. It drives me crazy because it's so fragile and frustrating, but it makes me happy because i get to use recycled materials and ones that I really love. I still get incredibly excited when i find a great old sheet or scrap of fabric at the thrift store. I've actually invested so much that I've been told my the doctor that the top of my spine is flattening out!
You refer to yourself as a "transient" and live what most would consider a more alternative, ascetic lifestyle. How does this affect your artmaking process?
It works for me. I hide out for weeks or months at a time in a little garage I rent with my materials, and I nerd out on my work. Then I travel around and sketch and collect pieces of people and ideas for my work. I never get homesick but I really miss sewing sometimes, and I often wish my medium didn't require so much equipment.
A lot of your work deals with technology and its divisive relationship with self-image. How do you relate to technology personally? Even as someone who uses technology relatively less than most, how does it affect your psyche & sense of self?
I have a love-hate relationship with technology. It has enabled me to connect to so many people, and to stay connected. And on the days when I don't leave my desk, it allows me feel like i'm still part of the world. I find it compulsive though, and I often find myself mindlessly scrolling or google searching a new ailment when i've sat down to read a comic I was looking forward to, or I decided to take a break, and I will get mad at myself for the wasted time. Most of my anti technology-related stuff is me making fun of or analyzing myself for my usage.
Which is your favorite piece from this body of work and why?
A portrait I did of one of my instagram followers because I like the expression: sexy, vulnerable, disillusioned, and looking for approval in the thumbs of strangers.
You source your cloth from "soft" things like bedsheets and tablecloths, yet the content of your work is often coarse, dark and aggressive. What does this dynamic suggest to the viewer?
I use these materials that are part of what was traditionally considered women's domestic work in a way that is a bit tongue-in-cheek for me to express the dichotomies of my female experience. I want to be beautiful and loved but more than that, I want to be smart and funny, and honest about being horny, mentally ill and insecure about aging, while at the same time frustrated from a lifetime of being judged on my appearance and brainwashed on the importance of it.
Much of your work addresses the idea of the female spirit- how do you want to change the way people view or think about women through your work?
I would like to make people more comfortable with being who they are and less associated with who they feel they are supposed to be. I am so happy about how many women have responded to my work and told me that it makes them more comfortable expressing their sexuality and disfunctions. I feel that there is so much about being a woman that feels shameful or taboo, and talking about these things openly takes away the stigma and makes us stronger. I want to take the things that make us uneasy and turn them into topics of fun and funny discussion. When I started making this kind of work about 10 years ago, I felt like there wasn't enough of it but now i feel like I'm a part of a large movement of aggresively honest women, and I'm happy to play a part in my own small way. I recently had a man tell me that I changed the way he thinks about vaginas forever, that made me very happy.
What are your most prized possessions?
My sketchbooks. I love going through them and seeing what I wrote to myself and what I was into drawing at the time, and I need them to remind myself that I have something that makes me feel better on days when I feel like everything is completely hopeless.
One of your pieces (one of my favorites) starts with the phrase "f*** netflix and chill...." can you gives a little more insight into this piece?
Well... about a year ago I found myself single for the first time in over a decade. I've never been on a date in my life, and people kept asking me why I didn't go on tinder..I wrote that in my notebook, alongside a drawing as a response and I thought it was funny and other people might relate to it. I've found that the very personal mean joke kind of notes that I spontaneously write to myself in my notebooks have been the things that people relate most to. This has enabled me to feel more 'normal' and connected to people than I ever thought possible.
Which X-man would you be and why?
Wolverine. I love having long, sharp nails.
What are 5 things a woman should never be without?
1. A knife or mace or some serious self defense skills.
2. At least one strong supportive female friend but really as many as possible.
3. A good book, everyone should have a rabbit hole dive to look forward to.
4. A fullfilling hobby that lets you feel like nothing else matters while you are doing it.
5. A vibrator, vibrators are the best.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
How to pronounce my instagram name? it's "rachmones" (rakh-MOHN-es) and people always think my name is rachel, but it's the yiddish word for "empathy" derived from the word for womb. (I'm not jewish, I just love lenny bruce.)